The Journal of Value Inquiry

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 75–90 | Cite as

Dismantling the Asymmetry Argument

  • Vlastimil VohánkaEmail author

The lament over one’s own coming into existence is rare but long-held. It was heard from Abul Al-Maʿarri, Arthur Schopenhauer, Emil Cioran and others, mostly on the ground that life is just terrible. About two decades ago, David Benatar brought attention to the asymmetry argument: one should lament not only over terrible life but even over life, if there was one, heavenly good but marred by a single harm, however minor.1

Even for the merely possible people with such blessed lives it is better never to come into existence, insists Benatar. So much the more, he claims, it would have been better for actual people. In this article, I firstly try but ultimately fail to make a coherent sense of that claim. I call that claim the Betterness Thesis (BT) – for each human person, it would have been better had she never come into existence.2 Based on his own hints, I propose to replace BT, whenever needed, with the Regret Thesis(RT) – for each human person, it would be rational to be sorry for...

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Faculty of ArtsUniversity of OstravaOstravaCzech Republic

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